The FBI recently released government documents that technology and privacy analysts are now beginning to digest and comment on pertaining to the domestic wiretapping issues here in the United States. AT&T has been using a technology entitled “communities of interest.”
Anyone can read the documentation first hand, but the layman’s explanation seems to be that by use of several seemingly simple data-mining algorithms, they scan through call logs made on AT&T’s network that scan the connections between phone numbers. The process seems to work like a game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game, where folks are judged by what the paper calls “guilt by association.”
Essentially, if you talk to someone who talks to terrorists, your phone records could be in scrutiny. The research for this technology was done pre-2000, in an effort by AT&T to curtail those who made fraudulent credit-card calls, but has since been re-applied by the FBI to discern new people of interest. Gone are the days of the McCarthy era, when folks were solicited to name names – your phone company now (at no extra cost to you!) provides this service for you.
[via Freedom to Tinker]